Between network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is a vast one. Here are some of the shows, specials and movies coming to TV this week, May 23-29. Details and times are subject to change.
MILLION DOLLAR MERMAID (1952) 8 pm on TCM. Busby Berkeley choreographed this musical based on the life of Annette Kellerman, the 20th century Australian swimming star. Kellerman is played by swimmer turned actress Esther Williams, in one of her several aquatic musical performances. TCM is showing it alongside another example, EASY TO LOVE (1953), which will air at 10 pm
THIS IS US 9 pm on NBC. When this drama from Dan Fogelman debuted in 2016, it quickly became a hit – largely, it seemed, because it offered something friendly but high quality at a time when anger reigned. “I’m all for really dark art and dark TV and film, but there’s a point where people are craving a different kind of emotion at 8 or 9 or 10 at night,” Fogelman said in an interview with The Times in 2017. ( It helped that the show had standout performers including Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia.) The series will end on Tuesday night with a finale that, based on the season up to this point, promises to be bittersweet.
THE MURDER OF FRED HAMPTON (1971) 6:30 pm on TCM. Two years after the 21-year-old Black Panther figure and civil rights leader Fred Hampton was killed in a police raid, Chicago filmmaker Howard Alk and producer Mike Gray came out with this feature-length documentary. Split into two parts, the film functions as both a portrait of Hampton and an inquiry into the circumstances of his death.
TOP GUN (1986) 8 pm and 10:30 pm on Paramount Network. “Top Gun: Maverick” arrives in theaters this week, but some audiences might feel like they’ve seen it already – originally intended to be released in 2019, the movie’s many delays mean that several lengthy trailers have been released to repeatedly rekindle the hype – and it’s a little hard to imagine there are scenes in the movie that haven’t already been shown. Still, it’s a natural time to revisit the original movie, which helped cement the careers of Tom Cruise, who plays a hotshot pilot at an elite naval flight school, and the director Tony Scott, whose virtuosic flight sequences are surely the real star here. When the film was first released, the critic Walter Goodman, in his review for The New York Times, praised the aerial sequences – though he had a note about the high-tech planes that feels prescient in retrospect. “Despite the movie’s emphasis on the importance of pilots,” he wrote, “given all the electronic wonders at their touch – such as being able to lock an enemy plane in their sights and dispatch a missile to chase and destroy it – they seem part of some cosmic technological enterprise. ”
GREAT PERFORMANCES: KEEPING COMPANY WITH SONDHEIM 9 pm on PBS (check local listings). The revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” that is currently on Broadway with Katrina Lenk and Patti LuPone opened just days after Sondheim died in November at 91. This special looks at the making of production, which had to contend with the realities and limitations imposed by the pandemic. The show is a gender-flipped take on the original musical: Its main character, a serially single New Yorker, has been subtly renamed (Bobby is now Bobbie), and is played by Lenk. That a rethought version of Sondheim’s show should open days after his death is a mark of plays and musicals’ ability to keep growing even after their creators are gone. “Theater is ephemeral,” the director Marianne Elliott said in an interview with The Times last year, “it’s about the now. Even if you set it in another period, it should have something to say to the now. ”
ABOMINABLE (2019) 6 pm on FX. Most of the time, finding an unexpected creature on the roof of one’s home is a negative experience. But that is not so for Yi, the young girl voiced by Chloe Bennet in “Abominable.” The plot of this animated family-friendly adventure movie kicks off when Yi discovers a lost yeti hiding on the roof of her apartment. She and two young accomplices help reunite the creature with her family while keeping it out of the hands of evil, money-backed people who want the yeti for financial gain. In his review for The Times, Glenn Kenny wrote that the movie is “an exceptionally watchable and amiable animated tale” – even though, he noted, the yeti character, nicknamed Everest, “looks like a not-too-distant relative of Gritty,” the lovably outré mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers. ”
OLD (2021) 8 pm on HBO. Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps star in this most recent movie from M. Night Shyamalan. Adapted from a graphic novel by French writer Pierre Oscar Lévy and Swiss illustrator Frederik Peeters, “Old” is much about its setting as it is about its characters: The plot centers on a family vacationing at a beautiful, supernatural beach that causes its visitors to grow old at an accelerated pace: A half-hour equals about a year of physical aging. In his review for The Times, Glenn Kenny said that Shyamalan, a master of the shocking twist, might not quite have given this movie’s interesting premise a satisfying ending. But, Kenny wrote, the director’s “fluid filmmaking style, outstanding features of which are an almost ever-mobile camera and a bag of focus tricks, serves him especially well here.”
NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT 8 pm on PBS (check local listings). Memorial Day is Monday, May 30. This annual concert, held beneath the United States Capitol Building, honors the holiday with appearances by service members and famous performers. This year’s lineup includes groups like the US Navy Band Sea Chanters, the US Army Chorus and the National Symphony Orchestra, plus actors Gary Sinise and Jean Smart, the musician Rhiannon Giddens and more.